Friday, June 29, 2012

Sowing Seeds, Bearing Fruit

Friday greetings from a very soggy Chicago. This is the first real rain we have had in quite some time. My apologies for not having posted yesterday; the air conditioning system in our building here began to fail at about 2:00 P.M. as the thermometer reached 100 degrees! Quite a day.

OK, my musician friends, have I got a recommendation for you. A few years ago, Jennifer Kerr Breedlove (author of WLP's Sight-Sing a New Song) came to us with a proposal for a new book. With over twenty years of experience as a music director, she thought she could put some of that experience and expertise at the service of the wider Church.

Her newest book with WLP just hit the shelves this week.

Sowing Seeds, Bearing Fruit: A Five-Year Process for Growing a Singing Congregation is Jennifer's latest contribution to assist those in music ministry. Using the metaphor of the garden, Jennifer leads the reader through her five-year process. This book is inspiring and practical and is obviously based on solid pastoral experience. Great for the new music director and the more seasoned musicians among us.

I hope that your weekend is a good one and that your Sunday celebrations bring you closer to the Lord.

Gottta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WLP: Where the "W" Stands for "Winner"

Wednesday greetings from the great Midwest.

This morning began with some wonderful news for us here at World Library Publications. The annual Book Award Winners, granted by the Catholic Press Association, were announced.

WLP received six awards.

Paul Turner's Pastoral Companion to the Roman Missal received two first place awards, one in the "Liturgy" category and the other in the "Professional Books" category. Congratulations, Paul. Archbishop Arthur Roche, who yesterday was named Secretary of the Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments in Rome, wrote the book's foreword.

Bryan Cones' Daily Mass Intercessions 2012 won a third place award in the "liturgy" category. Congratulations to Bryan.

In the "Catalog" category, WLP won a first place award for Fall Catalog 2011 and a third place award for Spanish and Bilingual Resources Catalog.

And the first place award in the "Design and Production" category was given to WLP's Roman Missal-Deluxe Edition.

In granting this award for WLP's Missal, the Catholic Press Association had this to say: "This is indeed a beautiful book and is a fine illustration of the bookmaker's art. Impressive is the only word we can think of to describe this Roman Missal. From the rich maroon buckram cover stamped in gold to its heavily gilded page ends, the volume exudes quality. The page designs are excellent as is the type selection and the selection of paper."

The gratitude I feel in my heart extends to too many people to name here. I am so proud of our team here at WLP and our talented authors. Congratulations, everybody!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: I Need Some Help

"New Translation Tuesday" has rolled around again.

One of my colleagues here at WLP told me about what happened in the parish at which she was the organist this past weekend. On Sunday, of course, the Mass was the celebration of the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. She told me that the pastor of the parish, although not a big fan of the new translation, has nonetheless prepared the prayers quite thoroughly each weekend and then prays them slowly and deliberately. When he arrived at the Prayer after Communion, this was his text:

Having feasted at the banquet of the heavenly Lamb,
we pray, O Lord,
that, finding joy in the nativity of Saint John the Baptist,
your Church may know as the author of her rebirth
the Christ whose coming John foretold.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

After he prayed the prayer, there was something about it that apparently just didn't make sense to him. So he shook his head, looked out at the congregation, and said, "Let's try that again." And he prayed the prayer again, slowly and deliberately, after which he shook his head again and the Mass continued. When I heard this story, I have to admit that I really felt badly for this priest. This is a difficult prayer, don't you think?

I have consulted several of my theologically astute colleagues here and we had a long discussion about the prayer's meaning. The prayer asks that the Church may know Christ, "the author of her rebirth." I was and still am confused with what the prayer means by the Church's rebirth. Does it mean that the Church was reborn in baptism? That seems kind of odd because a person is reborn in baptism and thus becomes a member of the Church. When does the Church's "rebirth" take place? Am I just being dense here? I need some help with this one, folks.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Nice Surprise

Monday greetings to all.

I received a large package in the mail this morning. It contains a significant number of photos of my ancestors. While my mother was preparing to send these to me, she ran across the greeting cards she received when I was born in 1958. I had never seen these. What a wonderful little Monday surprise. Thanks, Ma!

Here is the collection:

And the one I particularly liked:

These vintage cards are so amazing. Some people actually signed the cards, not below the message, but on the inside blank area on the ones that are folded in fourths:

Actually there are three signed in this fashion. Anyone have any ideas why?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, June 22, 2012

"The Way Jesus Treated People"

Friday greetings on this amazingly beautiful morning in Chicago. Here's a photo I took this morning; the flower boxes on my balcony at home:

And my view from the train platform this morning, looking out at the skyline:

I have been reading with interest the Instrumentum Laboris, the working document that the synod of bishops on "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith" will be using as a guideline when the synod takes place later this year.

The first chapter appropriately focuses on Jesus Christ. Here is a short section from that chapter:

18. The Christian faith is not simply teachings, wise sayings, a code of morality or a tradition. The Christian faith is a true encounter and relationship with Jesus Christ. Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions which lead to this encounter between the person and Jesus Christ. The goal of all evangelization is to create the possibility for this encounter, which is, at one and the same time, intimate, personal, public and communal.

I find this to be quite inspiring. The document, again and again, speaks of the fact that many who call themselves Christian have actually lost any sense of their own personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The so-called "new evangelization" seeks to remedy this. One of the more inspiring sections in that first chapter speaks about the way that Jesus himself evangelized:

The way Jesus treated people is to be considered an essential element of Jesus’ method of evangelizing. He was able to welcome everyone, without distinction, and never exclude anyone: first, the poor, then the rich like Zacchaeus and Joseph of Arimathea; outsiders like the centurion and the Syro-Phoenician woman; the righteous, like Nathanael; and prostitutes and public sinners with whom he also sat at table. Jesus knew how to plumb the depths of a person and elicit faith in the God who first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10,19), whose love always precedes us and is not dependent on our own merits, because he is love itself: “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16). In this manner, he sets down how the Church is to evangelize, demonstrating for her the heart of the Christian faith, namely, to believe in Love and in the face and voice of this Love, namely, Jesus Christ.

"In this manner, he sets down how the Church is to evangelize. . ." Let's insert the Church and re-write this section:

The way the Roman Catholic Church treats people is to be considered an essential element of the Church's method of evangelizing. The Church should welcome everyone, without distinction, and never exclude anyone: first, the poor, then the rich like Zacchaeus and Joseph of Arimathea; outsiders like the centurion and the Syro-Phoenician woman; the righteous, like Nathanael; and prostitutes and public sinners, like the ones with whom Jesus sat at table.

Food for thought. I hope your weekend is a good one.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Translation Thursday: The Great Divide

"New Translation Thursday" greetings from WLP's home office here in Franklin Park, Illinois.

Well, Tuesday's post and the ensuing comments suggest that there is a great divide among the followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray. It is hard to believe that people who love and serve the Church can be at such opposite poles on the issue of the new translation; either it is the greatest thing to happen to the liturgy in decades or it is the worst thing to happen.

I do agree that we need much more time with this new translation. And I must admit that I am paying so much closer attention to these prayers at Sunday Mass.

And I also must admit that, at times, the awkward and unfamilar structure pulls me in, spins me around, and shoots me out without a clue as to what was just prayed. And I also must admit that at times the prayers indeed are "meaty" and inspire me. My final "also must admit" for this post is that I honestly am feeling much more of the former than the latter. I need more time and experience with these texts.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: The Pope and a Pastor: A Disconnect?

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings to all.

Pope Benedict, in his final videotaped address to those gathered for the Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, reflected on the anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's reform of the liturgy:

The Congress also occurs at a time when the Church throughout the world is preparing to celebrate the Year of Faith to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Vatican Council II, an event which launched the most extensive renewal of the Roman Rite ever known. Based upon a deepening appreciation of the sources of the liturgy, the Council promoted the full and active participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic sacrifice. At our distance today from the Council Fathers’ expressed desires regarding liturgical renewal, and in the light of the universal Church’s experience in the intervening period, it is clear that a great deal has been achieved; but it is equally clear that there have been many misunderstandings and irregularities. The renewal of external forms, desired by the Council Fathers, was intended to make it easier to enter into the inner depth of the mystery. Its true purpose was to lead people to a personal encounter with the Lord, present in the Eucharist, and thus with the living God, so that through this contact with Christ’s love, the love of His brothers and sisters for one another might also grow. Yet not infrequently, the revision of liturgical forms has remained at an external level, and “active participation” has been confused with external activity. Hence much still remains to be done on the path of real liturgical renewal. In a changed world, increasingly fixated on material things, we must learn to recognise anew the mysterious presence of the Risen Lord, which alone can give breadth and depth to our life.

I'd like to place Fr. Austin Fleming's comments from last week's post here, because I think there is a direct relation to the Pope's statement. Here are Fr. Fleming's comments regarding my post about the Collect for Corpus Christi:

Gerry, you wrote, "Sure, there is some awkwardness in the construction..."

What if the awkwardness in the construction thwarts whatever meaning and beauty is in the collect for those who have not studied and rehearsed the text ahead of time? What of those worshipers who, as many of us would prefer, do not follow along in pew books but who open ears and hearts to hear and pray the collect the priest offers?
Seems to me that no matter how beautiful the text and its meaning to those who study it, the same text has failed if those for whom it is intended fail, in the best of circumstances, to grasp its meaning and intent. 

I have great respect for Fr. Fleming's work and solid pastoral sense. His words gave me pause when I first read his comments and they have haunted me all week. Look again at what the Holy Father said in the statement above: "The renewal of external forms, desired by the Council Fathers, was intended to make it easier to enter into the inner depth of the mystery." The re-translation of the Missale Romanum was indeed part of the continued "renewal of external forms." And here is a pastor, whose dedication to excellent liturgy is well-known, saying that this particular renewed "eternal form" "has failed if those for whom it is intended fail, in the best of circumstances, to grasp its meaning and intent."

Does the Holy Father need to hear from people like Fr. Fleming? I don't think any of us would argue with the points made by the Holy Father in this statement; actually it is quite inspiring. You can read the entire text here. I think what we see here is quite a disconnect between what the pope hopes is happening in the hearts of the faithful with this new translation, this new "external form," and what is actually happening in many of the faithful's experience.

I know I have opened a can of worms here, but a blog like this is a forum for all of us to share our experience. So, please hit the comments tab and share away. And, Fr. Fleming, thanks for your comment.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Future of Saint James Parish

Greetings to all on this Monday morning here in Chicago, where the temperature is predicted to reach 95 degrees today; a hot one for sure.

I hope you had a chance to take a peek at the new funeral music collection I shared with you on Friday.

Yesterday at my parish, we had a visiting priest, one of my pastor's brother monks from Saint Meinrad. While I love my pastor, it was nice to have a different celebrant for Mass. And it was also good to settle back into Ordinary Time. Our parish has a "Mustard Seed Society," a group of parishioners who gather to talk about the future for our small parish. There have been some rumors floating around the parish: that we will be hearing some exciting news soon about the future of our parish. After our beautiful church building was closed over three years ago, we moved into the school auditorium. It has been a challenge at times, but the commnity's spirit and prayer have been nourished and, I believe, have grown over these past three years. We have been told that it will cost upwards of twelve million dollars for us to move back into the church.

It is just not possible for such a small community like ours top raise that amount of money. Yesterday, I read in the parish bulletin that we had served 1659 families in the month of May at our parish's food pantry. So, we are praying, singing, celebrating, and reaching out to the poor on Chicago's near South Side. There have been rumors that somehow the bell tower will be saved and incorporated into a new worship space for us on a different piece of property near the current parish plant. But you know how rumors are. I am waiting patiently for the announcement and am praying that somehow we will be able to continue as Saint James Parish. Please say a prayer for us.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Funeral Music: We Will Rest in You

Friday greetings from sunny and very warm Chicago.

I am sitting here at my desk listening to WLP's new recording, We Will Rest in You: The Funeral Collection.

This is a compendium containing some new music, but primarily music from WLP's vast treasury, music for the funeral rites. There are three components: the CD, the Keyboard/Vocal edition, and the C-Instrument edition.

Some of the music has appeared in our worship resources for decades; it is well worth discovering or re-discovering.

I am just now listening to Fr. Jim Marchionda's very lovely piece, May the Angels Lead You. 

Musicians, this is a must for your shelf. As the recording continues here in my office, I am thinking that this would be an appropriate CD for anyone in the grieving process.

I hope your weekend is one of delight and refreshment.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bravo, Metuchen!

"New Translation Thursday" greetings from Chicago; I flew into O'Hare about an hour ago and am now at my desk.

The last two days were amazing ones in the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, at their Saint John Neumann Diocesan Center, pictured here:

Four diocesan offices had decided, after surveying the parishes of the diocese, that a series of training/re-training events were needed on the topic of the RCIA. So that everyone was on the same page, they invited me to come to the diocese and give four workshops; actually one workshop given four times. Tuesday's two and a half hour workshops were geared to the clergy of the diocese. Yesterday's were geared toward the lay ecclesial ministers. The content of the presentations was identical. When I first considered doing these, I wondered what it would be like to do the same workshop four times in two days. Well, I must say that I think it went pretty well. The enthusiasm from the lay ministers, particularly, was infectious. But I thought it was a great thing that everyone heard the same message.

Too often, there is a clash in parishes; a clash between the lay people who attend RCIA workshops, seminars, and institutes, and their pastors. For many priests, the RCIA was either not taught in the seminary or was an elective. So, while the priest may have a solid grouding in sacramental theology, the principles and movements of the RCIA may in fact be somewhat of a mystery to him. I thought what this diocese did was a very smart thing. And there was representation from more than half the parishes in the diocese. Bravo, Metuchen!

Feeling invigorated by all of this and feeling challenged to be more of an evangelizer at my parish and beyond.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Translation Tuesday Greetings from Metuchen, New Jersey

"New Translation Tuesday" greetings from the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey. I am here to give four talks to the clergy and lay leaders of the diocese: "The RCIA: What's It Got to Do with Me?" I am finding that now that the Missal implementation frenzy has settled somewhat, that diocesan leaders are looking more closely at the effectiveness of the implementation of the catechumenate. This is where my own real pastoral passion has been focused for most of my adult Catholic life; so it is with a sense of relief that I feel like I am returning to work that helps people engage in the paschal mystery through preparation for the sacraments of initiation. I strongly believe that this is where true renewal of our parishes and of the Church can be found. It's sort of a "back to the basics" approach at this juncture.

I would like to say that I found the Collect from this past Sunday's celebration of the Body and Blood of Christ to be quite inspiring:

O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament
have left us a memorial of your Passion,
grant us, we pray,
so to revere the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood
that we may always experience in ourselves
the fruits of your redemption.
Who live and reign with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Sure, there is some awkwardness in the construction, but the line that struck me was "that we may experience in ourselves the fruits of your redemption." I think that Catholics in general need help in understanding what this means. When we hear "fruits," for instance, kiwis and oranges might immediately come to mind! When you really think about it, ask yourself what it means to you that you are being invited, time and again, to experience within yourself the fruits of redemption in Christ? To me, I was moved to think about the ways that God is continually at work on my own life; how, for instance, in my own lived Catholic experience, God calls me away from my own sinfulness and longs to work that redemption over and over again. Is this not the miracle we celebrate each week at Mass? Like I said, I think that most Catholics need help with this concept. And I guess that is why I find initiation ministry so remarkable. RCIA ministers get to see Christ be born, live, die, and rise again in the hearts, minds, and very lives of catechumens whom God entrusts to their care. What an extraordinary ministry!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sanctifying the Near South Side

Happy Monday one and all. My carpool colleagues and I were discussing blogs on our way to work this morning. I tend to be a bit chatty in carpool; so they wondered if perhaps my "blog" would more aptly be called a "blab!"

Yesterday, following the 9:30 Mass at my parish, Saint James here in Chicago, we had a eucharistic procession through the streets of the neighborhood. It was a beautiful day.

The bells in the church tower rang out the entire time. Here is a photo of our closed church. The tower contains about two octaves of enormous bells, which can be played from a small keyboard inside the church. I know that our community will probably never be able to return to worship inside this building, but I am hoping that there is a way to save the bells. My beloved Saint James:

As the bells chimed from the tower, many of us carried handbells, randomly ringing them through the streets of the near South Side.

I had a sense of peace as we moved through the streets. There was a rhythm to the walking, and the occasional handbell chimes and the peal of the bells in the tower seemed to sanctify the air, as did the incense; you can see the thurible in this photo:

The Chicago police helped us throughout the procession. They did their work with dignity and respect.

At the halfway point, we all paused and sang Alan Hommerding's fine text, a setting of the Sequence for Corpus Christi, Praise, O Zion, Voices Raising.

I am looking forward already to next year's Corpus Christi procession.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Steve Fiskum's Fine Work: Engraving the Chants of The Roman Missal

Rare Saturday greetings. Sitting out on the balcony in Chicago's West Loop. Enjoying the morning breeze and a good cup of Tim Horton's coffee, thanks to my friends in Saskatoon! Best coffee in North America.

WLP's senior music engraver, Steve Fiskum, was recently interviewed by the folks at Finale (premier music engraving software). I wanted to share that interview with you some months ago, but somehow it slipped by.

I am certain that one of the major reasons why WLP's edition of the Roman Missal won a first place award by the Association of Catholic Publishers is because of the fact that we re-engraved every single bit of the chant in the Missal. No small feat. But when I made the decision, I knew that our expert engravers, led by Steve Fiskum, would more than rise to the occasion.

At any rate, here is the post. Enjoy. And enjoy your weekend.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Variations by Peter Kolar

Friday greetings from beautiful, sunny, and warm Chicago.

I returned to the city yesterday after a very short trip to Los Angeles for a few meetings. I enjoy Southern California and wish that I could have remained just a little longer.

When I returned here to the office this morning, I found a copy of Catolico, which is the Archdiocese of Chicago's monthly Catholic newspaper. The June issue features a review (in Spanish) of WLP's own Peter Kolar's debut piano CD, Variations.

If you were to purchase one physical CD or download just one electronic version of an album this year, I would suggest Variations. Here is a snippet of "Variations on LAMBILOTTE (Come Holy Ghost)."

Peter's skill at the keyboard is on full display on this album.

I remember the first time I experienced Peter's playing. It was probably fifteen years ago at an Archdiocesan conference here in Chicago. I was singing in the choir and a young "kid" was playing piano for the prayer service. I was mesmerized by his fingers, seemingly effortless, as they flew around the keyboard. Real, raw talent here folks!

I am looking forward to a relatively quiet, sunny, and warm weekend here in Chicago. I am giving four talks on the RCIA to the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey next Tuesday and Wednesday. This is my last trip until the NPM convention in Pittsburgh in late July. Frankly, I am looking forward to an extended period without stepping on a plane.

I hope your weekend is a good ones. Keep your ears perked up for the prayers and the preface for the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ this weekend! Probably lots to talk about next week!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

See You Tomorrow

My apologies for not having posted these past few days. I traveled to Los Angeles very early yesterday morning and returned to Chicago today. Update tomorrow. Thanks for visiting.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

New Translation Tuesday: Trinity Preface Too Difficult to Pray?

"New Translation Tuesday" has dawned bright and beautiful here in Chicago.

After having spent the past several weeks attending Mass where Croatian and German were spoken and sung, it was refreshing to get back to Mass in English this past weekend at my parish. I noticed how my pastor almost painstakingly prayed the Preface for the Most Holy Trinity:

It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God.
For with your Only Begotten Son and the Holy Spirit
you are one God, one Lord:
not in the unity of a single person,
but in a Trinity of one substance.
For what you have revealed to us of your glory
we believe equally of your Son
and of the Holy Spirit,
so that, in the confessing of the true and eternal Godhead,
you might be adored in what is proper to each Person,
their unity in substance,
and their equality in majesty.
For this is praised by Angels and Archangels,
Cherubim, too, and Seraphim,
who never cease to cry out each day,
as with one voice they acclaim:

Now I certainly ascribe to the adage lex orandi lex credendi, but I thought this prayer sounded more like a theology lecture than a prayer. My pastor very carefully pronounced each and every word, but it just seemed like it was so darn hard to pray this text.
What did you think?
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Little Things

Monday greetings. It is a delightfully sunny day here in Chicago, praise God.

On many mornings, I meet several of my colleagues in a suburb just over the Chicago city limits, Oak Park. I carpool with them to our offices here out near O'Hare Airport. Usually one day a week I drive in from the city and pick them up and take them to work.

In order for me to catch the train to Oak Park, I have to take a bus to that train. That is, until today! This morning, for the first time, I was able to get the train at the brand new Chicago Transit Authority's Morgan station in my own neighborhood. No more buses, just a short walk. Here's a photo I snapped this morning while on the platform for the very first time.

It's the little things in life, I guess. I was like a little kid this morning as I explored the station for the first time. It's been under construction for over two years. So, thank God for a new train station in the West Loop of Chicago!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, June 1, 2012

WLP's Roman Missal Wins First Place Award

Friday greetings from a very proud associate publisher here at World Library Publications. Yesterday, the first annual "Excellence in Publishing" awards were presented at the 2012 Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit in Saint Charles, Illinois. Here is a portion of the press release, with a bit of highlighting by yours truly:

Association of Catholic Publishers

News Release
May 31, 2012
Contact: Therese Brown,

Women, Liturgical Press, Loyola Press Dominate 2012 “Excellence in Publishing Awards”
All Is Grace Is “Excellence in Publishing” Book of the Year
Roman Missals from Magnificat, World Library Publications Receive Top Award

BALTIMORE, MD — Women took half of the six first place awards and seven of the second and third place awards at the 2012 Excellence in Publishing Awards given out today by the Association of Catholic Publishers at the 2012 Religious Booksellers Trade Exhibit (RBTE) in St. Charles, IL. The goal of these awards is to recognize the best in Catholic publishing.
Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, came away with six awards including two first places in Theology and Scripture. Loyola Press, Chicago, IL, received four awards in three different categories, Resources for Ministry, Inspirational, and Prayer & Spirituality. Three awards went to Pauline Books & Media and two to Orbis Books, including “Book of the Year” for All Is Grace, a biography of Dorothy Day by Jim Forest.
In the special category for the new Roman Missal, Third Edition, first place went to both Magnificat and World Library Publications with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops receiving third place. Roman Missals were judged on their artwork, general layout, and music engraving.

I was honored to receive the award on behalf of the team here at WLP. Being recognized by the association with the first place prize for WLP's Roman Missal was one of the proudest moments for me and for all of us here at WLP. Years of planning, editing, music engraving, and production produced a fine and noble book. We were honored and humbled by this award.
What a week for WLP!
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.